Journal of Environmental Protection, 2011, 2, 1207-1210
doi:10.4236/jep.2011.29138 Published Online November 2011 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/jep)
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
Degradation of Lindane (γ-HCH) in a Mollisol as
Effected by Different Soil Amendments
Gunjan Bhatia1, Anjana Srivastava1*, Prakash Chandra Srivastava2
1Department of Chemistry, College of Basic Sciences & Humanities, Pantnagar, Udham Singh Nagar, India; 2Department of Soil
Science, College of Agriculture, Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, Udham Singh Nagar, India.
Received July 29th, 2011; revised September 7th, 2011; accepted October 8th, 2011.
Soil amendments play an important role in management of pesticide residues. In this study, incubation experiment was
conducted using the surface (0 - 15 cm) sample of a mollisol su pplied with different so il amendm ents (farm ya rd ma nure ,
cow-dung slurry, pyrite and gypsum) to investigate the effect of amendments on the d issipation of lindane in mollisols.
Dissipation of lindane in soil was studied at eight consecutive samplings (0, 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15 and 30 d). The results in-
dicated that soil amendments could promote the degradation of lindane in soil. After 30 d of incubation 79% degrada-
tion was observed in the untreated soil (without any amendment) whereas, in the case of farmyard manure and
cow-dung slurry amended soils, 83% and 91% degradation was observed, respectively. Gypsum also enhanced the
degradation of lin dane in soils, but the effect was less pronoun ced as compared to the organic amendmen ts. Enhanced
degradation in soil treated with organic amendments could be attributed to stimulated microbial activity after the addi-
tion of organic amendments. Application of organic amendments, under different soil management condition s, minimize
the persistence of lindane and consequently the risk of leaching and seepage into aquifers.
Keywords: Lindane, Amendment, Soil, Residue, Degradat ion
Lindane, the ‘γ’ isomer of hexachlorocyclohexane (γ-
HCH), is an organochlorine compound primarily used as
an insecticide and fumigant against a wide range of soil
dwelling and phytophagous insects. Other major uses are
for personal hygiene as scabicide and pediculicide in the
form of lotions, creams, or shampoos. However, agricul-
tural uses are mainly responsible for the persistence of
lindane residue in soil. Due to its worldwide use for more
than 50 years, lindane-contaminated soil can be found in
many parts of the world. Although many countries have
restricted or eliminated its usage, obsolete stock piles
continue to pose a threat to various ecosystems [1,2].
Once lindane enters the environment, it can distribute
globally [3-6] and can persist in various environmental
compartments [2,7-9]. Accumulation of OCPs in the
lipid content of animals is also a common phenomenon
due to their hydrophobic properties. Due to its continu-
ous use and indiscriminate industrial production, lindane
contaminated soils are widespread in the country.
Application of soil amendments has been a common
agronomic practice followed in agriculture to increase
the soil fertility and crop productivity. Soil amendments
play an important role in the management of pesticides
residues in agricultural fields. Supplemental soil amend-
ments may be added to enrich the habitat for degrading
organisms. MacRae et al.  showed a stimulated re-
moval of α, β and δ -HCH by amendment of urea. Potas-
sium chloride and potassium sulphate were also shown to
enhance degradation of γ-HCH in cell suspensions of
Clostridium sp. .
Since, lindane exerts adverse impacts on the environ-
ment, therefore, it is critically important to develop dif-
ferent methods to enhance it’s degradation in polluted
fields. These cost effective tools can help farmers to mo-
dify their farming practices and preserve soil and water
quality. A laboratory investigation was, therefore, planned
to evaluate different soil amendments for their efficacy
to dissipate lindane in a mollisol.
2. Material and Methods
Lindane of 99.5% purity grade was obtained from Hime-
dia Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai and the solvents used
in the study were of analytical grade and purchased from
M/s Merck (India).
Degradation of Lindane (γ-HCH) in a Mollisol As Effected by Different Soil Amendments
2.1. Preparation of Soil
The soil used in this study was collected from the Prac-
tical Crop production (PCP) Block located in G. B. Pant
University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar,
India. Surface (0 - 15 cm) soil sample was collected and
air-dried under shade and crushed by a wooden roller and
sieved through a 2-mm sieve. The physico-chemical
characteristics of the soil were determined using standard
analytical procedures: pH measured at 1:2 soil-to-water
ratio ; organic carbon content by Walkley and Black
method ; soil mechanical fractions, sand, silt, clay by
employing the Bouyoucos hydrometer method . The
physical and chemical properties of soil used in the study
are presented in (Table 1). Two kg soil samples taken in
different plastic bags were separately amended with
farmyard manure @ 5 t·ha–1, cow dung slurry @ 0.5
t·ha–1, pyrite @ 5 t·ha–1 and gypsum @ 5 t·ha–1 while the
unamended soil served as a control. Prior to addition of
insecticide, the soils receiving different treatments were
incubated for 15 d near field capacity moisture regime
(26% on weight basis) and then lindane (2 mg·kg–1 soil)
was added to each treatment. Soil moisture under each
treatment was maintained near field capacity through out
the incubation period by regularly adding the required
amount of water.
For determining the residue of lindane under different
treatments, aliquots of treated soil (10 g) under different
treatments were taken at 0, 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15 and 30 d
after addition of lindane. Lindane residues were extracted
from soil samples and determined by gas chromatogra-
2.3. Extraction and Analyses
The insecticide residues from soil samples (10 g) were
extracted using acetone (25 mL) by shaking on a shaker
for 1 h. The acetone layer was separated and dried over
anhydrous sodium sulphate. The solvent were concen-
trated and dissolved in 1 ml of hexane. The samples were
Table 1. Some basic properties of the soil used.
Sand (%) 16.4
Silt (%) 44.0
Clay (%) 39.6
pH (1:2, soil water suspension) 8.16
(dS·m–1, 1:2 soil water suspension) 0.130
Organic carbon (%) 1.45
Free iron oxide (%) 0.97
quantified on a Chemito Gas chromatograph, Model se-
ries 800 plus, equipped with a 63Ni electron capture de-
tector (ECD) and fitted with packed column 10% SE 30
(8’ length and 1.8’ i.d). The GC operating conditions
were: oven: 180˚C, injector: 230˚C, detector: 300˚C, ca-
rrier gas (nitrogen) flow rate: 30 mL·min–1. The detec-
tion limit for lindane was 0.01 μg and recovery from the
soil at fortification levels of 0.1 - 10 μg·g–1 soil was more
than 90%. Quantification of lindane was accomplished
by using a standard curve prepared by injection of the
standard solution in n-hexane.
3. Results and Discussion
Soil acts like an active filter, where pesticides are de-
graded by chemical, physical and biological means. The
degradation of pesticides in the soil is a function of their
availability to microorganisms or enzymatic systems which
are capable to degrade them and also their population
and activity [14-16]. The availability and degradability
of a pesticide in the soil varies a lot from one pesticide to
another and also depends upon the soil type . Soil
physicochemical properties play a determining role in the
degradation of pollutants. These parameters affect both
their equilibrium concentration in the soil system as well
as possible adsorption onto various soil components .
The increase of organic carbon content in soil could in-
crease the amount of microbial biomass and thus, induce
the degradation . As a result, total organic carbon
(TOC) content could affect the residue levels of HCH in
soils . Soil pH can affect the concentration of HCH
in soil by influencing the microbiological activity in the
soil . In the present study, however, no attempts were
made to correlate the physico-chemical properties of
lindane, soil and amendments with the degradation rate
of lindane. It is assumed that pesticides generally dissi-
pate in the soil in two phases; an initial period of rapid
diminishing of residue followed by a longer period of
slower reduction . The relative importance of these
phases depends on the availability of the pollutant, their
hydrophobicity and affinity for organic matter .
Dissipation data for insecticide under 30 d incubation
fitted well to a first-order kinetic equation: log(C/Co) =
–Kobs t, where Co is the initial concentration of insecticide
(mg/kg); C is its concentration (mg/kg) after time t, t is
time lapse (days) and Kobs is the rate constant of the reac-
tion. Figure 1 represents the dissipation behaviour of
lindane under different amendment treatments of soil. In
untreated natural soil (without amendment), lindane was
found to be more persistent as compared to amended
soils. After 30 d of incubation, 79% degradation was
observed in natural soil but in the case of farmyard ma-
nure and cow-dung slurry amended soil, 83% and 91%
degradation were observed, respectively. Gypsum amend-
opyright © 2011 SciRes. JEP
Degradation of Lindane (γ-HCH) in a Mollisol As Effected by Different Soil Amendments1209
Figure 1. Dissipation of lindane in different treatments of
soil with amendments.
ment also enhanced the degradation of lin- dane in soils,
but the effect was less prominent as com- pared to the
organic amendments. The computed values of simple
correlation coefficient (r) between natural log residues
and time for farmyard manure, cowdung slurry, pyrite
and gypsum amendments were 0.981, 0.924, 0.826 and
0.973 (all significant at p = 0.01), respectively, indicating
that the dissipation of lindane in different amended soil
could also be accounted by the first order kinetics. The
half life values (t1/2) in farmyard manure and cow-dung
slurry amended soils (Table 2) were found to be 8 and
11 d, which were lower than the value observed in the
case of untreated natural soil (t1/2 = 14 d). However, the
t1/2 values for lindane in pyrite and gypsum amended
soils were 14 and 12 d, respectively. This indi- cated that
organic amendment were more efficient in lindane deg-
radation in soil as compared to other amendments. Or-
ganic soil amendments, such as manure, biosolids and
other organic residues, are commonly applied as soil
amendments to improve soil productivity [23-26]. Addi-
tion of organic amendments often changes the path-
ways of pesticide movement and degradation in soils,
depending on the reactivity of the organic amendments
and their effect on microbial activity [27,28]. Organic
amendments increase the soil organic carbon pool and
soil microbial activity. These amendments not only serve
as a nutrient source, but improve the aeration or water
retention in the soil, reduce toxicity and create a suitable
habitat for indigenous microorganisms. Earlier studies
have also confirmed that organic amendments enhanced
the degradation of lindane in soil [29-31]. Unlike organic
amended soils, the inorganic amended soils did not bring
much change in lindane degradation kinetics in the soil.
High lindane concentrations in soil from spills or dis-
charges can result in point-source contamination of ground
Table 2. Degradation constants for lindane in different
treatments of soil with amendments.
slurry Gypsum Pyrite
Kobs. 0.051 0.080 0.061 0.058 0.049
T 1/2 (day)14 8 11 12 14
R2-value 0.850**0.980** 0.924** 0.972**0.826**
** Significant at p ≤ 0.01.
and surface waters. Cost effective technologies are needed
for the on-site treatment that meet clean-up goals and
restore soil function. Innovative treatments should be
particularly, useful in country like India since lindane
contaminated soils are widespread in the country. Study
suggests that organic amendments like farmyard manure
or fresh cowdung slurry certainly enhance the degrada-
tion of lindane in soil. The addition of organic amend-
ments means an increase in microbial activity to degrade
lindane. These results have practical implications in ma-
naging insecticide residues, especially that of lindane as
it is reported to persist in different soil types.
Authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support
from Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi,
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